Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

What is our Legacy going to be?

The ironic timing of this week’s Lockdown and the biblical portion of this week of Vayechi is nothing short of providential. And why? Because both underscore our intense desire to ensure the perpetuation of our nation.

From Avraham to Jacob – Our Legacy Matters

No bestseller could have as many riveting stories as the book of Genesis (known as Bereishit), whose final chapter this week brings to a closure the life and times of our patriarchs. Each of our patriarchs and matriarchs, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka, and Jacob and his two wives Rachel and Leah were subjected to just about every challenge imaginable – from nature’s harsh judgment of famine and starvation experienced by both Avraham and Sarah and Jacob and his sons which drove each to Egypt to human cruelty in the example of the rape of Jacob and Leah’s daughter Dina – to the controversial sale of Joseph by his brothers – we see a pattern of trials and tribulations that could break anyone.

And yet, at the end of these tests orchestrated under the banner of divine providence, our destiny as a people has been solidified and our foundation set as a nation that can withstand any challenge – no matter how potentially debilitating.

Hamalach Hagoel

The best example of this commitment to our survival are the verses cited by our forefather Jacob in this weeks’ portion and which parents sing to their children  and are recited in synagogues for blessing the children as depicted in – Hamalach Hagoel

“May the angel who has delivered ​me from all harm bless these lads. May they carry on my name and the names of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they grow into a multitude​ on earth.”

Genesis 48:16

Rabbi Sholem B. Hecht, a Chabad Rabbi, wrote a beautiful explanation regarding this blessing in his article Vayechi, A Blessing for Generations.

The author asks what exactly was the blessing that Yaakov gave to Ephraim and to Menashe when he said, “may my name and the name of my father Avraham and Yitzchok be upon them?”  The only blessing which seems to be spoken is the blessing of the multitude – Vayidgu l’rov.” (This is the opinion of the commentator Rashi)

“The later commentaries do explain that Yaakov’s blessing, in speaking of his name and the name of his father and grandfather, meant that G‑d should bless these children with those forces, powers and characteristics which were personified and represented by the names of Yisroel (Israel), Yaakov (Jacob), Yitzchak (Isaac)  and Avrohom. “

The author concludes the article by discussing the power of giving blessings to subsequent generations.

Blessing for the Ages – The Tie that Binds

As the book of Bereishit closes, a major take away is that Hashem has given us in this powerful book the blueprint for our survival – building the family unit is imperative. And the family starts with the couple itself. Over the course of the book, we were introduced to the husband and wife teams of our patriarchs and matriarchs mentioned earlier and given glimpses into even their most intimate challenges in life such as infertility. In fact, the whole book is one of the relationships with the last chapters devoted to identifying and elaborating on the birth and actions of the twelve tribes which catapulted us from the security of Canaan (Israel) to the origins of our servitude in Egypt.

For example, the blessing of Hamalach mentioned above was given over by Jacob to Joseph and his sons Menachem and Ephraim as a tribute to his beloved wife Rachel.

The Best Blessing of All

The last chapter of the book is actually the most poignant as Jacob gives his farewell and blessing to each of the tribes and as such is laying the bricks and foundation for our people to take into exile in Egypt.  Each son was given a unique blessing and prescription for survival. But the overarching message is that unity and harmony are the essential building blocks to be secured.  And the starting point as the entire book suggests is the solid foundation shown within the context of marriage.

Marriage is the Core Element for preserving our People

Marriage is a life change on an enormous scale which requires preparedness beyond an intimate conversation with a mother, father, rabbi or kallah teacher. Marriage and its foundations have the ability to strengthen or rock the very core of our society from our collective happiness to our employee productivity. Through efforts at community levels to corporate and governmental echelons, we have an obligation to ourselves and our children to provide tools and techniques to strengthen their chances of a successful marriage.

Marriage Education Matters

The solution which will reinstate marriage as the institution bringing the highest value to our people is Marriage Education. It has the capacity to provide couples with the tools and skills that are critical to their becoming the strongest, healthiest and happiest couples they can be.

Lockdown is the Perfect Opportunity for Educating our New Couples

This Lockdown is the perfect opportunity for couples to focus on the lessons of this week’s Torah reading – and reflect on what values will help us stay united as a people and be a foundational blueprint for preserving our nationhood.


Our nonprofit Together in Happiness is the exclusive partner for offering a FREE online pre and newly married marriage education online course for engaged and newlywed couples for up to six months. The course ePREP (based on the worldwide acclaimed curriculum known as PREP – Prevention Relationship Education Program) provides for communication and problem-solving techniques with self -paced sets of videos and interactive exercises.

Registration details can be accessed using the link.

Lockdown is the perfect time for having Date Nights and learn critical relationship skills for a lifetime.

Inoculate Your Relationship

It is so interesting how of all the countries, Israel once again is leading in the aggressive way that we are providing for the vaccination of its residents. Clearly, the message is that preserving the sanctity of life matters and we can be a light to the nations as to how we want to ensure that our homes and families are given the necessities for our survival. We owe the same response to our family by giving priority to our relationships.

The Torah book of Bereishit is the biblical guide for what are the most essential keys and ways to ensure fulfillment of the blessings of our patriarch Jacob for all ages and times – we must stay unified and make sure that our homes set the warmest and nurturing environments for our generations to come. And that starts with having the most loving couples and relationships. Let us take the messages of our patriarchs and give our Lockdown meaning. There is no place like home for focusing on our relationships.

Give a Gift to our Young Couples

And that especially applies to our engaged and newly married couples who are just starting out on their journey. If you are aware of any engaged or newly married couples encourage them to take advantage of the FREE online ePREP offer. Providing these couples with the tools for healthy and happy marriages such as those offered above will help ensure that the blessings of our patriarchs and matriarchs are given the greatest inoculation boost for generations to come.

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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